Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil

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Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil by James Bovard Palgrave Macmillan * 2003 * 440 pages * $26.95

Wars have always seen a growth in state power. Under the appeal of "national security" and "wartime emergency," individual liberties have been abridged or abolished, property rights have been weakened or abrogated, accumulated wealth has been heavily taxed or confiscated, and freedom of enterprise and trade have been severely constrained or completely placed under government control and planning.

Most tragically, the young men of society have been sent into battle, often under illusions of national glory and a false sense of patriotism. Many of these young men do not return home; others return with wounds that leave them and their families ruined and scarred for life.

Court historians soon fill the pages of their books with versions of the war that present the political leaders of their country as Olympian-like gods, selfless beings who only thought and acted for "the good of the nation." Every loss of personal freedom, every abridgment of economic liberty, and every expansion of government power is rationalized away as having been necessary and indeed essential for the national interest during that time of crisis.

And when many of these freedoms are not fully restored when the wartime emergency ends, those same apologists for political power then babble on about "new times" and "changing circumstances" and a "less simple world" that cannot afford the "luxury" of human liberty to the same extent it existed in "days gone by." In the meantime, freedom has been lost and government has grown in power and control.

Before these court historians and apologists for state power can completely dominate the shelves in the bookstores, James Bovard has waded in to challenge the rationales for the most recent losses of freedom and to show the consequences. His new book, Terrorism and Tyranny, is like his many other exposes of government power and corruption: clear, dispassionate, factual, and heavily documented. He is the Joe Friday of political analysis: Just the facts, ma'am. And the facts will make your blood boil.

Bovard begins by summarizing the extent to which the government's own foreign-policy and security incompetence set the stage for the tragic events of September 11, 2001. To cover up their own failures and create an image of "doing something," government investigative agencies, even before the dust had cleared where the Trade Towers once stood, undertook dragnets through Arab-American communities. …